Crawford comes up big in relief

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
12:07
AM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO – It’s all too appropriate that Corey Crawford was the unlikely hero of the Blackhawks’ 4-3 win on Tuesday. After all, he hadn’t won a game since Feb. 21 and been pulled in his previous two starts.

[+] EnlargeCorey Crawford
Rob Grabowski/US PresswireCorey Crawford broke out of his slump with Tuesday's winning effort.

He stopped 18 shots in two periods plus overtime but saved his best work for the shootout when he denied all three Blues’ skaters. Or at least he made the save on two of three. One did the work for him.

“I was pretty focused in that one, I was hungry,” Crawford said afterwards. “Just tried to get out far, stay patient, make them make the first move. I think [David] Perron just lost control of it on the final shootout attempt, so that was a good feeling.”

It wasn’t long ago Crawford was being pulled from games, in fact, in one against Toronto he was taken out after the first period just as Ray Emery was on Tuesday. In both cases, the backup that night went on to win.

“It’s not by design, believe me,” Joel Quenneville said. “Those things are things sometimes you go with your gut.”

Quenneville’s gut must be telling him the right thing. Emery wasn’t scored upon against Toronto in relief and neither was Crawford on Tuesday.

“It seems whoever comes in second is doing a pretty good job these days,” Viktor Stalberg said smiling. “It’s been funny how it’s been going like that, back and forth this year.”

And now it’s Crawford’s turn to enjoy the spotlight. Does that mean he’s back in the mix as the playoff goalie? Crawford was just happy to get a win or at least make some saves.

“I wasn’t really thinking about [getting his first win since Feb. 21], I was thinking more about, I just had to make sure I made a key save at a certain time in the game,” Crawford said.

Again, he saved the best for last.

Slappers

Patrick Kane scored the lone goal in the shootout.

“I was talking to [Marian] Hossa on the bench, ‘I think I’m going to go backhand top shelf here,’” Kane recalled. “He said, ‘no, go backhand five-hole.’ So I was like ‘I’ll listen to Hoss, he knows a thing or two.’ It ended up working out.”

Brandon Bollig fought for the fifth time in seven career games, coming to the aid of Jamal Mayers after Ryan Reeves checked him into the boards. Bollig was given an instigator penalty.

“I don’t agree with that call one bit but it happened,” Bollig said. “I think it was a clean hit but I disagree with the instigator call.”

• Corey Crawford has made saves on 14 of 17 shootout attempts this season.

• The Hawks and Blues shot differential, plus-22, (46 to 24) was the highest in favor of Chicago in any one game this season.

Dave Bolland had a career-high nine shots on net.

Jesse Rogers | email

Chicago Cubs beat reporter
Jesse joined ESPN Chicago in September 2009 and covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN Radio 1000.

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